Arthur James Balfour 1st Earl of Balfour
Biography of Arthur James Balfour 1st Earl of Balfour
Arthur James Balfour
Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour (1848-1930), was Rector of the University from 1890 to 1893. He was a Gifford lecturer and he was awarded an honorary LLD in 1891.
Born in Whittinghame House in East Lothian, Balfour studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. He inherited a considerable fortune and spent many years as a gentleman philosopher and a member of the famous group of aesthetes, the Souls. He was elected a Conservative MP in 1874 and his political career blossomed under the patronage of his uncle, Lord Salisbury. He held a variety of offices including those of First Lord of the Treasury and Chief Secretary for Ireland and he was Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905. He was a senior figure in the coalition Government during the First World War and was responsible for the "Balfour Declaration" of 1917, which promised the Jews a national home in Palestine. He was created Earl Balfour in 1922.
In the 1890 rectorial election, Balfour defeated the Earl of Aberdeen in a campaign masterminded by the young Robert Horne, a student who became MP for Glasgow Hillhead and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Balfour held a number of university offices and was awarded many honours: for example, he was elected Rector of the University of St Andrews in 1886 and he was Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh from 1891 until his death in 1930.